Established in 1983 by civil engineer Athena Uslander, Silverland Bakery (located in Forest Park, IL) was built on a family brownie recipe, to meet growing demand for quality brownies, a rarity at the time. Today, their selection includes brownies, bakery bars, cookies, rice crispy treats, and natural food bars sold nationwide to cafes, grocers, caterers, and a loyal customer base.
Uslander is a woman, immigrant, and mother of three, who learned how to bake on the job with a friend and business partner who helped establish the business. When the partnership ended, Uslander’s newfound baking talent and adaptability ensured Silverland’s continued success.
“I’ve developed thousands of recipes,” she says. “Things are constantly changing and people are always asking for something new.”
To meet the current moment, Silverland has introduced keto brownies, vegan rice crispy treats, and a brown butter blondie. Uslander hopes that such products can help overcome the challenges that her 20-employee plant faces today. Inflationary price shocks can be detrimental to a small business, but 2022 was still better than the height of the pandemic.
“In 40 years of business, I never saw anything like what happened in 2020,” remarks Uslander. “There were days when I really thought we would have to start over.”
2023 continues to bring opportunities. The pandemic brought new businesses, for whom Silverland is able to provide co-packing services. This is when a company produces another company’s product on its behalf to help simplify its manufacturing process. This capability landed the business multiple cameos on CNBC’s The Profit, where Uslander advised growing bakeries as they sought investment from Marcus Lemonis, the show’s host.
Opportunities like these and providing for her employees keep Uslander motivated, even 40 years later. Chicago area locals can visit Silverland’s bakeshop in Forest Park; for more information, visit silverlandbakery.com.